Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Sunday used the second anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq to answer the most tenacious criticism of the war effort - that the Pentagon did not commit sufficient troops to the major offensive or to stability efforts after Baghdad fell.The Democrats have been afraid to take on Gen. Franks directly so they have aimed their fire at President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld. But, all along the decisions have been those of the military. And, the decisions were not necessrily bad or wrong. In war you deal with the situation you have, not the one you would like to have. Given the facts onthe ground, the US military and its commanders have done a terrific job, regardless of what ignorant liberals are saying.
The fault, Mr. Rumsfeld contended in two appearances on television talk shows, rested with Turkey, a NATO ally, which would not give permission for the Fourth Infantry Division to cross its territory and open a northern front at the start of the war in March 2003.
"Given the level of the insurgency today, two years later, clearly, if we had been able to get the Fourth Infantry Division in from the north through Turkey, more of the Iraqi Saddam Hussein Baathist regime would have been captured or killed," he said on "Fox News Sunday."
As the invasion neared, the heavily armored units of the division and its support elements were in ships off Turkey, ready to create a battlefield vise to squeeze adversaries with the larger Army and Marine Corps force entering Iraq from Kuwait to the south. Had that happened, "the insurgency today would be less," Mr. Rumsfeld added.
With the Fourth Infantry blocked from entering from the north, "by the time Baghdad was taken, the large fraction of the Iraqi military and intelligence services just dissipated into the communities," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "And they're still, in a number of instances, still active."
Pressed on why the level of American forces was not increased to subdue a resilient insurgency even after the United States was the occupying force in Iraq, he said the troop levels for the stabilization mission were set by Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who at the time was commander of the military's Central Command.
"General Franks made a call, and he made a judgment that not only would they not be needed and it would not be appropriate, but that it would be ill advised to put that many more, quote, 'occupation forces' in," Mr. Rumsfeld said on the ABC News program "This Week."